Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 31 proposed a $216 million plan to give a a $1,000 bonus to 3,600 public schools principals and 180,000 full-time classroom teachers, saying “principals and teachers answered the call” during a difficult year defined by the coronavirus pandemic.
His proposal, which must be approved by the House and Senate, does not extend to service workers such as food service employees, bus drivers, technicians, plant services employees, administrative and support staff, teacher aides, and many others who all also “answered the call,” and without whom principals and faulty would not have been able to answer theirs. Last year, DeSantis secured a $500 million raise to the minimum salaries of teachers, but again, without a parallel proposal for service employees. The 2021-22 budget also includes another $50 million to further raise the minimum salaries of teachers.
On Wednesday, Angela Bush, Flagler County schools’ Food and Nutrition Services Director, posted a YouTube video response to the governor’s proposal at Cafe EDU, a twitter account that keeps followers informed of “what’s happening in your school cafeteria.” The full response appears below, as does the video.
Dear Governor De Santis: I’m writing to you regarding your proposal to provide a $1,000 bonus to principals and teachers. I appreciate the sentiment and effort put forth by your office to reward the teachers who have undoubtedly had the toughest year in their careers. They are deserving, no question about it.
At the same time, my heart is also saddened [by] another initiative that neglects to take support staff into consideration. My child nutrition staff not only returned to work during their spring break last year, they have never stopped feeding our children even from the first days when most others were told stay home and stay safe. They’re on the front lines serving from drive-thru pickup sites, remote locations, and in our schools. They continue to do more with less, basing staffing and supply shortages on nearly a weekly basis.
Flagler staff isn’t doing anything more or less than the child nutrition staff members in Florida’s 66 Other counties. Teachers have been given raises and opportunities for performance pay that don’t apply to support staff, and it’s understandable. They bear the direct responsibility of educating our future. That’s a tremendous responsibility and calling that indeed deserves recognition. However, proposing to reward only the teachers and principals for keeping schools open amidst the global pandemic, falls short of recognizing many who played a vital role in supporting our students.
I would be remiss if I failed to include custodians, bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance staff computer techs, and so many more. Every member of our district staff contributed to our successful navigation of Covid. Our district computer techs were standing in the elements for hours to distribute computers. The maintenance staff built-in Covid protections. Bus drivers were concerned about spending hours in a small enclosed space each day, but continued to drive. Custodians worked long hours with specialized equipment and sanitizing procedures in order to complete the backlog of extraordinary requests received by the schools.
Our support staff helped each other when needs arose–from custodians who cooked meals to maintenance staff fixing buses, and even food service staff handing out computers, and on a goes.
There’s so much more I could tell you. Stories like these echo across the Sunshine State. I pray my words are impactful to whomever reads them. I’m asking you to consider adding a bonus for support staff to your proposal, to recognize principals and teachers as well as those who play the indispensable roles in these times, wouldn’t just be equitable, it would be appropriate.
Respectfully yours, Angela Bush
J. Dot says
Why just $1000?
They need to raise the scale for veterans, academic and non academic. I’m not saying six figures, but with the gravity of our job, we should be paid what they get in Chicago.
The Voice Of Reason says
This is really a no brainer. Gov photo op (desantis) gets some cheap publicity by throwing the teachers and principals a bone to look good. There is an army of school system workers that REPEATEDLY get ignored when it comes to pay or bonuses. This rotten governor throws money to principals who already earn a decent salary and ignores the little people every time. He is a piece of crap. Just like when he threw vaccine festivals for his rich friends. (contributors). Thank you Angie for bringing this to light in a respectful manner. Me, I’m just ticked off.
And the Truth shall be told and set you free. WTG
Ria Geary says
The Teachers and Principals definitely won the Game, but they couldn’t have had that success without the rest of the Team.
A Big Thank You to All! Ria
I agree I’m a teacher assistant and it’s really tough to work without one. Team is what we are.
Roxy Deluca says
I so proud of you Angie for being the one administrator who publicly stood up for support staff.
Retired Flagler County employee
Very eloquently said. I would also like to include paraprofessionals as deserving also.
Angie, you’re a gem!
Old Guy says
It takes a dedicated team to educate our children and ALL members of that team deserve some level of reward. It’s just common sense.
Linda LINDA LONGO says
Thank you Angie for being our voice. You are an amazing women.
I am so thankful you are apart of our school district
Wanda Williams says
I agree with you 100%.
Cafeteria workers deal with the kids every day. We put our health and the health of our families at risk. We should be compensated as well as teachers and principals. We are essential too, if not more so.
School Community Strong says
Stop voting for someone who does not have the entire community or system in their best interest. He is supposed to listen to his constituents and does not.
THE MAJORITY OF TEACHERS — would agree. We can not do what we do with the support of all the staff members. They are a vital part of the school community. Our bus drivers establish connections with students and parents to get the students here to learn, our paras take on additional responsibilities to help students achieve, our custodial staff ensure we have a clean and maintained school community, our clerical staff help us to organize and get information out to the appropriate personal and our food service employees are always accommodating students to the best of their ability. As a teacher I am so grateful for these members of our school community and all they do to support our students, parents, and teachers.